Honoring Black History Month

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During Black History Month, Team Red, White and Blue (Team RWB) honored the accomplishments and recognized the challenges of Black service members and veterans. Those accomplishments and challenges are important to remember year-round.

Four Team RWB members shared valuable perspectives with Eagle Nation about how we can recognize the contributions of people of color to our nation’s history beyond the end of Black History Month.

Ricky R., Law Enforcement Officer, and Army Dad

What would you like Eagle Nation to know about the meaning of Black History Month?

Black History should not be celebrated in a month, it should be celebrated every day.

Why is it important that the military community celebrate and recognize Black history?

It’s important because we should know and share the history of Black people in the military. Many have served our country throughout history experiencing racial descrimination despite proving their worth numerous times. The history of the Buffalo Soldiers and how these soldiers gave their all, and despite that suffered tremendously due to racial descriminaton, even as many earned the congressional medal of honor. We need to recognize that. 

How would you like to see Eagle Nation celebrate Black history?

Pick a day and not just during Black History Month. Volunteer to read a story to elementary school students about black history or black military men and women like Ensign Jesse L. Brown, a United States Navy Officer. He was the first African-American Aviator to complete the U.S. Navy’s basic flight training program, was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the first African-American naval officer killed in the Korean War. Or Salaria Kea, an American nurse and desegregation activist who volunteered in both the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War. During the Spanish Civil War she was the only African American nurse working in the Abraham Lincoln Battalion.

Howard S., Airman, Team RWB Volunteer

What would you like Eagle Nation to know about the meaning of Black History Month?

I want to share with you the significance of Black History Month to me. As a young Black child growing up in the south, there was limited information about Black Americans’ achievements shared in public schools. Most of what we were taught was merely basic knowledge of a few Black Americans such as George Washington Carver, the peanut farmer; Harriet Tubman, the runaway slave; and Frederick Douglass, the writer. Their accomplishments were so much broader than what we studied, and there were other great Black Americans we never learned about.

It was not until I enlisted in the Air force and started to research Black History for the Nellis, AFB Black History program that I discovered Macon Bolling Allen. He was the first Black lawyer and the first Justice of the Peace in 1873. He overcame racial prejudice throughout his career to seek justice for the Black community in South Carolina after the civil war. Prior to enlisting in the military, I was a Pre-Law student at the University of Mississippi. I’d learned about a myriad of lawyers and legal scholars and yet I’d never heard of Mr. Allen. Were it not for the military recognizing Black History Month, I would not have learned about the accomplishments of Mr. Macon Bolling Allen who inspired me to continue my legal studies.

Why is it important that the military community celebrates and recognizes Black history?

It is vitally essential for any organization that I support to celebrate and recognize Black History Month. I could not support a veteran organization that does not acknowledge the Black soldiers’ history in the military. Since I have been a part of Team RWB, the organization has recognized Black Americans’ accomplishments not only during the month of February but throughout the entire year. It is essential not only to continue to celebrate the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen but also to recognize all Black Americans that have served in the military. The spirit of inclusion and fair representation is what is vitally important to the attractiveness and hope for the continued success of the team.

How would you like to see Eagle Nation celebrate Black history?

I am hopeful that everyone in Eagle Nation will embrace the rich history of Black Americans. There is so much of our history that we have yet to be told. Black History Month is not just for Black Americans, it is for all Americans to learn our country’s history.

Amanda W., Team RWB Volunteer

What would you like Eagle Nation to know about the meaning of Black History Month?

Black History Month is a time to celebrate and highlight the contributions of Black and African Americans to our country, our culture, and our history. For many of us, we live in this space 24/7 but this special time is essential to emphasize the struggles and successes we have made to get where we are today.

Why is it important that the military community celebrates and recognize Black history?

Almost 30% of active duty service members are Black women and as a Black woman, I could not be prouder of, and more thankful, knowing that they are out there serving people like me and our country in this way. As a civilian, I look up to them and their selflessness in pursuing this path of lifelong service. There are more than 2 million Black military veterans that have served a country that does not always respect them and it is important to recognize their sacrifice, accomplishments, and service in the midst of such discrimination. It is important to recognize that even while we may recognize these veterans as extraordinary, there are instances throughout history where Black veterans have not been treated equally. For example, while the G.I. Bill did not explicitly exclude Black veterans from receiving those benefits, its implementation was designed to fit into Jim Crow structures of the late 40s through the 50s to exclude the 1 million Black service members returning home from World War II. It is up to all of us to recognize that these inequalities existed and continue to exist so that we may recognize and honor Black military veterans for all that they have sacrificed both at home and abroad.

How would you like to see Eagle Nation celebrate Black history?

Be intentional about taking time to engage with Black history and make space to amplify Black and African American voices. Whether that is reading books by Black authors, supporting Black businesses, giving back to your own community, when we recognize that Black history is American history, we can start to recognize the resilience of Black and African Americans in the face of adversity while building this country.  

Valeria R., Team RWB Volunteer

What would you like Eagle Nation to know about the meaning of Black History Month?

African Americans have made significant contributions to our country by way of inventions, arts, music, policy and in many other areas that haven’t been taught through history. I see Black History Month as an opportunity to highlight and honor those contributions and educate all Americans at the same time.

Why is it important that the military community celebrates and recognize Black history?

African Americans have fought in every conflict in American history, in spite of unfair compensation and false promises of freedom in the early wars. For military/veterans to celebrate and recognize the sacrifice, bravery and dedication of these soldiers during Black History Month is an integral part to the uniting of our country.

How would you like to see your fellow Eagles joining you in celebration of Black History Month?

I feel that reaching out and seeking answers to what Black History Month is, is in itself the most important thing you can do. If you don’t understand or know what it means, how can you celebrate it? Kudos to you my fellow Eagles! Let’s use this as a means to educate, empathize and unite in service to one another.

 

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